Following on from its decision earlier in the week relating to clergy in civil partnerships, today the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland considered the case of clergy in same-sex marriages.
The General Assembly has taken the first step to extend the provision covering ministers in same sex civil partnerships to those in same sex marriages. The final decision has been deferred until its presbyteries have been consulted under the process known as the Barrier Act. Presbyteries will now debate the matter and return their votes by the end of this year.
Following the historic vote on Saturday, it means congregations may now opt out of traditional church teaching on marriage to call a minister or deacon in a same sex civil partnership, but that provision does not extend to any ministers entering into same sex marriages until the final vote has been taken. Special provisions have been agreed which protect any minister or deacon ordained before May 31st 2009 who is now in a same sex marriage…
The decision is explained by Frank Cranmer this way: Same-sex marriage for Church of Scotland ministers? – not just yet. As Frank notes:
If a majority of presbyteries approves the proposal it will return to the Assembly in 2016 for a final decision. Any wider consideration of the theological understanding of same-sex marriage will not take place until the Theological Forum presents its report at a future date.
The Joint Report of the Theological Forum and the Legal Questions Committee on the matter is available here: the proposed draft amending legislation to extend the ambit of the Ministers and Deacons in Civil Partnerships Act (passed on Saturday) to include ministers and deacons in same sex marriages is in the Appendices to the Joint Report.